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Cristina Lopez del Burgo, Professor at Preventive Medicine and Public Health and researcher at Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Spain
Other forms of violence against women: making visible in order to eradicate it
In the 15 years that I have been teaching at Preventive Medicine and Public Health, I have given numerous sessions on women's health. Conversations with my students at the exit of class or in the office, where they share their concerns with me, have taught me that we have to look beyond theory, because theory is then embodied in the life of each person. That is where we have the possibility of accompanying, attending to and, especially, giving visibility to those situations that violate people.
result Violence against women is defined by the United Nations as "any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." If we take this definition into account, we intuit that there are other forms of violence that are more silenced and invisibilized and that expose women to a deeper vulnerability: that of leaving them alone in the face of their suffering. Today I will only point out two of them, although unfortunately there are more.
1) Violence in reproductive health services, recognized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which also occurs in developed countries. It includes, among others, malpractice in childbirth and the withholding of information so that women give their consent to certain practices. We can also add misinformation about the adverse effects of contraceptives, which so many women are suffering, or about assisted reproduction techniques (including egg freezing), which are neither as effective nor as harmless as they are sold. Women's freedom and autonomy are violated when their uterus is traded in "surrogacy". Also when abortion is offered as the only way out in order not to lose the work, the consequences for her health are hidden, she is deceived by being told that in her womb there are only "a few cells" or she is offered it as the only option when her child has a disease. Women have the right to have access to accurate and complete scientific information to make decisions about our health and we also deserve to be offered effective alternatives with fewer risks.
2) The production, knowledge dissemination and consumption of pornography. Last year there were 115 million daily visits to one of the largest pornography portals. Experts warn that, in addition to the risk of addiction, pornography encourages violence against women and contributes to the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children. It offers a very distorted image of sex and sample women as an object at the mercy of any abuse. That is why it is becoming one of the entrance gateways to intimate partner violence, sexual abuse and possibly gang rape. I still remember a girl, who after one of my sessions, came up to me and asked me to continue to give voice to this serious problem of pornography, because behind the programs of study and statistics there were real people like her suffering the consequences. The increasing accessibility to pornography at younger and younger ages (a 9 year old child with an electronic device is already receiving pornography without looking for it) highlights the fundamental role of the Education of our children and invites families and society to talk about it, encouraging the development integral sexuality and the harmonious coexistence of men and women.
Edith Stein, a great champion of women in the 20th century, stated that "the world does not need what women have, the world needs what women are". We can also say the same about men. On the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women, it is important to remember that we need the efforts of everyone, men and women, to achieve this goal. May this day renew the commitment of each and every one of us to promote healthy relationships, where respect and recognition of the infinite value of each person are a reality.